Arolla to Evolène Walk

Cloudless skies have returned to the Val d’Hérens, so today I took the Postbus up to Arolla and walked (the 16k / 10 miles) back home.  There was still quite a lot of snow around on the paths in the Arolla valley, so I decided to use the road, at least initially.   Not only was this much easier, but it gave me an opportunity to take pictures of the views from some slightly different angles…

 

Mayen de Cotter (Walk 14)

One of my main challenges, when going out for a walk, is to try and take some different photos, so that the posts stay interesting (I hope).  So, although I did this walk up to Mayen de Cotter on January 1st, I decided to take an alternative route down, partly because there was a lot of snow higher up.  The weather wasn’t as bright as last time, but it was much warmer today.

On returning to the chalet, I managed to zoom in on a few of the birds waiting to feed at our bird table and, I admit it, I succumbed to one, OK two, of Judith’s best bakes… Cranberry and white chocolate biscuits – they’re possibly the finest in the whole world! 🙂

Tales of the Scales (week 12)

Well, after a disappointing week last week, my weight has plummeted to 74.4 kg.

Weight Week 12.PNG

This represents a drop of 2.2kg from the 76.6 last week and I’d like to show this graphically, but while I was updating my spreadsheet, Excel decided it was “Not Responding”.  So when asked if I wanted to restart I said Yes and then, to my horror, the file had completely disappeared.  Poouff! Gone! Disparu!  Not even the original could be found with a search of the whole laptop.  To say I was a bit miffed would be an understatement.
(Tip: If you have a crucial spreadsheet, take a back-up or another copy regularly!)

I may yet re-produce the Weight graph, as I have the few figures for that, but it also means my running log for 2017 (which I had in the same spreadsheet) has also gone.  ☹
(I have a back-up from last November, but that’s little consolation).

However, I can tell you that in terms of training for my marathon (now in 2.5 weeks time), I managed a whole 8k last week.   Thankfully my ribs are improving, to the point where I did manage a 27.5k/17 mile ‘run’ yesterday, but more of that next week.  As at the end of Week 11, I can remember that my total distance for 2017 was 116k or 72 miles).

 

Walk to Mandelon

I’m always trying to find new walks to post, but that’s quite difficult at this time of year with all the snow around.  Then I remembered that there’s a track on the other side of the mountains opposite us, in the Heremence spur of the Val d’Hérens, which is used for the Grand Raid mountain bike race.  I hoped, as it was facing south west and wasn’t at too high an altitude, that it would be clear of snow…  Well, it wasn’t, but that didn’t stop me walking up to the wooden buildings at Mandelon.

On the short drive back home, I stopped to take a few pictures of some typical, rustic villages.  They’re not quite the ‘chocolate box’ images that you might expect of Switzerland, but they’re beautiful nonetheless. 🙂

La Forclaz to Les Haudères (Walk 6)

Yesterday morning, I went for a short (8k/5 mile) run to test out my ribs, with the intention of running at what Mastersmarathonrunner calls a ‘jokingly slow’ pace.  I like this expression as it makes me smile – triggering thoughts of a really easy, enjoyable run.  I guess it sits below ‘Easy’ in the pecking order of running pace terms.  In the event, my ribs were a little sore, but fine, and I ran at around my marathon pace.

It was a gorgeous, blue sky day, so in the afternoon, I also took off for an 11.5k/7 mile walk from the chalet up to La Forclaz (Valais) and then down to Les Haudères and back.  After the recent warm temperatures, I wasn’t expecting to see as much snow, especially on the south facing slopes.

La Fornèije Loop (Walk 3)

As promised yesterday, I went for a walk, not only to the shops, but also along the short path which runs up behind and back to our chalet.  I’m glad I did, as below I have 2 quite rare images to share…

The first is of a Tortoiseshell butterfly in the snow. (I bet you don’t see that very often).  While the second is of some Spring Meadow Saffron (pic 8), which apparently is quite rare, growing only in the Valais region of Switzerland, and it appears in huge numbers in our valley.

You will also see that the snow is disappearing fast and the Spring flowers are beginning to pop out.

Tales of the Scales (Week 11)

Dieting is a funny old business.  This past week, I’ve not done anything exceptional in terms of eating (too much) and, if you read my post yesterday, you will know I walked 24 miles on Saturday.  (My brother’s gizmo, counted over 59,000 steps). BUT, my weight has gone up!

Weight Week 11

OK, I accept that I had another cooked breakfast and a few beers following our walk, but nothing much more than the week before, when my weight went down – albeit only slightly.  So I’m a little confused.  But, as I’m now back home in good old Switzerland (and not tempted by bacon and real ale), it’s time to really concentrate on my intake.

Weight graph, Week 11

As you will see my graph is very red, so I’ve already cut out beer and wine for the past 2 evenings and plan to continue with that this week at least.  My sugar intake (e.g. in tea) is being reduced ever so slightly, maybe even until I’m weaned off it.  Cakes and biscuits are definitely off the menu.  And I plan to do some exercise every day if I can, even if it’s only walking to the shops and back.

As for my training last week, thankfully, it’s a much better story.  It’s fair to say that I’ve been inspired by all the running blogs that I follow (and all that talk of tempo runs and interval sessions, etc.)   I’ve mentioned to a few people that I’m now one-paced, but I figured that there’s no real reason why I can’t do some intervals, or whatever.

So, knowing that I would be walking at the weekend, I decided that for my main (and one and only) run, I would drop back to the 13.1 mile distance of Week 9.   I decided to ‘make an effort’ for the first 11k, to see if I could beat my previous time and I did, by 1 minute.  (I think that might be what you youngsters call a tempo run).  My left calf was a bit tight on the way, but I still decided to do some 500m ‘sprints’ on the way back.  (Is this an interval session or just a fartlek or both? Whatever…)

I had 10k to cover, so I did 5 x 500m easy followed by 500m at a ‘fast’ pace, then a 5k ‘warm down’ run to the finish.   Remember this was the first time I’ve tried ‘sprinting’ in years… So I took the first one easy and I timed it at 2m 25s.  For the 2nd one, I forgot to start the watch, but it would have been about the same time.  The next three were done in 2m 20s, 2m 16s and 2m 14s respectively.  Feeling pretty pleased with myself, I began the last 5k at my normal (marathon type) pace and, with 3k to go, I noticed that I was on for a good time, so I made an effort.  (‘Twas ever thus, I’m afraid, when confronted with the possibility of a good time).  I finished the 13.1 in 1h 54m 56s, which was about 4.5 minutes faster than 2 weeks before.  Not bad I thought for 2, or was it 3, back-to-back training sessions.

On the way home, and to put this all into context, I worked out that these ‘sprints’ were at 4.5m per k (or 7m 15s per mile), or 22m 30s for a 5k, (which is slower than my mate Pete has been running his 5k Park Runs recently – so I’m very impressed with his ‘comeback’ performances) or a 3h 10 min marathon (which is slower than I used to run them 16 years ago).  So they weren’t so fast after all!  😦

Run and Walk graph, end Week 10

 

The Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge Walk

Not to be confused with the UK’s National 3 Peaks (which takes in the 3 highest mountains of England, Wales and Scotland) or the Welsh 3 Peaks, The Yorkshire 3 Peaks is a 24 mile (39k) circular walk mostly in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.  The most popular starting point is Horton-in-Ribblesdale and, going anti-clockwise takes in Pen-y -Ghent (@694m/2,277ft), Whernside (@736m/2,415ft) and Ingleborough (@723m/2,372ft), giving a total ascent of over 1,500m or 5,000ft.

My younger brother, Steve, has had this ‘challenge’ on his tick list for a while and when he mentioned it last year, I said I’d do it with him.  I thought it might be good training for my marathon in April, so we arranged to do it last weekend.  I mentioned it to my daughter, Sarah, as her boyfriend Karl is also running a marathon (Oslo) later in the year, and also to my mates Pete, Dave and Liam, and they all decided to come along.

As these things need to be planned in advance, we couldn’t guarantee what the weather would be like, but we did have a choice of Saturday or Sunday to do the walk.  So it was mist and fog versus rain most of the day, and we chose the former.

All was going well until about a third of the way round.  First, I slipped on some grass going down to a stream, then, a few hundred metres later, Pete took a tumble.   Both of us were OK, though a bit damp and muddy, until disaster struck…  A few moments later, almost simultaneously, my brother Steve, did a cartoon-style, legs flailing to keep his balance, backwards fall and I slipped onto my right side and jabbed my ribs hard with my elbow.  Steve was fine, but I was winded to say the least and from then on every deep breath was painful – which is not good when you have 2 more hills to climb.  Luckily Steve had some Ibuprofen in his bag which helped to dull the pain.

We all made it over the final 2 peaks before I tripped and fell again, this time head first on the wet, rocky path down from Ingleborough, head-butting the ground (luckily missing the rocks). Apart from a bang on the knee, a grazed nose (see pic) and a cut finger, I was fine.

I mention these ‘events’, not for any sympathy, but as a warning to anyone who might go walking on wet, soggy grass – it’s a hazardous business.

But, despite all these little accidents and the poor visibility, everyone enjoyed the walk and we celebrated afterwards with a nice meal in the local pub and a few pints of hand-pulled real ale. 🙂  (I’ve added some pictures of some beer clips especially for my buddy, Jamesie, at 50in50marathonquest).

I apologise in advance for the number of photos posted below, particularly as they are quite poor quality, but I know some of my email followers will be interested to see most of them.

Tales of the Scales (Week 10)

I may have mentioned this before, but the 2 things I miss most in Switzerland are hand-pulled real ales and bacon.  So it was no surprise that, having gone back to the UK last weekend, my consumption of same went up and my weight didn’t go down as much as I would have liked.  Indeed, after several delicious home cooked meals (thanks Angela and Jennifer) and at least 3 pub meals, I’m surprised it went down at all!  This week I lost a whole 0.1kg !  So I’m now where I should have been last week.

Weight Week 10

As a result, my graph is red.  😦   So I will be re-doubling my efforts, with a 13 mile run planned for tomorrow and a 24 mile walk, back in the UK, over the Yorkshire 3 Peaks at the weekend.  (OK,  that might involve some more beer, but I think I’ll deserve it.  Pictures of the ‘event’ will be posted next week 🙂 ).

Weight graph, Week 10

As for my marathon training, I had a good run last week.  I increased the distance of my  long run (in fact my one and only run) to 25k, or 15.5 miles and, for the first time in aaaages, I actually felt like I was running.  So the diet, and/or the training, must be working.  The route was the same as last week, but longer obviously, along the tarmac track that runs alongside the river Rhone.   I went through the 11k point 30 seconds faster than last week and finished quite well in a time of 2h 16m 43s.  This represents an average of 10.9 kph, or just under 5m 30s per k, or 8m 50s per mile, or 3h 51m marathon pace, depending upon your units.  🙂

Run and Walk graph, end Week 9

Tales of the Scales (Week 9)

So, today was ‘weigh in’ day and I have to say that I wasn’t hopeful.  I’d been checking my progress almost every day and the signs weren’t good.  Though this did make me more determined to stick to the plan and cut out any extra goodies.  Beer consumption plummeted to just the two cans all week (and these were after my long run last Tuesday), though wine consumption did increase slightly.

My target for this week was to get down to 75.7kg (or just under 167 lbs) and the scales hovered between 75.8 and 75.9 before settling on the lower figure.

weight-week-9

So I didn’t quite make it and my graph is red. 😦

weight-graph-week-9

So my action for this week is to do a little more exercise in between my runs and hopefully that will make the difference.

As for training, I managed two runs last week:
– one of 21.1k (or 13.1 miles).  I started with the intention of running out along the Rhone riverside for 1 hour, then turning back for the 2nd hour.  On the way I got to thinking that, if I’m to run a maraton in sub-4 hours, then I should be able to do a Half in 2 hours.  So I was pleased to see that in the first hour I’d done 11k.  But, on my return, I struggled over the last 5k and finished the Half in 1h 59m 20s.  Although this might look quite good, there was absolutely no way that I could have done it all over again!!
– my second run was a gentle 8k up to Les Haudères and back to Evolène, which I have to say had a very positive effect on my legs for today’s 25k run… (which I’ll have to tell you about next week).

I also did a walk up to Les Haudères and back and I think this must be the first time in many a year that I’ve run more than my plan.  🙂
run-and-walk-graph-end-week-8